Monday, November 30, 2009

What's In A Website?

Okay, so I've sort of become addicted to the whole playlist thing. (Remember that whole week of songs I did? Yeah.) I even put a playlist on my website last week for my YA dystopian novel, CONTROL ISSUES. I like adding new stuff to my website, and I've read a lot of marketing posts (thanks, Shelli. She has awesome posts from publishing industry pros, so you should be reading her blog every day. Just sayin'.) about updating your blog and website often.

So I've got the blogging thing down. I don't really know how to update my website though. They seem more like static creatures. What do you guys think? Do you have a website? Do you update it "regularly?" With what?


And since I've got an uber-cool guy helping me re-design mine, I have to tell him what to put on it. And, yeah, um, I'm drawing a blank. What should a website have as a bare minimum? What do you like to see on an author website?

Leave me some examples of ones you think are wicked amazing, if you're so inclined. I'm in learning-mode on websites right now.

26 comments:

DL Hammons said...

Sorry, no tips here. My blog is bare-bones and I use it as a means to an end. When I committed to writing every single day, I pound out some words there when I'm stuck on my book. I guess if I ever do get published I'll be adding bells and whistles, but until then, what you see is what you get.

Janna Qualman said...

This is a great post, Elana, and timely, too. I was talking with my sister last night, who will likely design my website for me when the time comes. We discussed the must haves and the have nots, and I agree with your assertion that regular updates are necessary.

For now, my blog does what I need. In the future, I'll have an all-encompassing author site.

Valerie Geary said...

I would think that updating your website would be simpler and less work than updating your blog. I don't think it's something you would need to do daily. Just when new projects or new interviews or new reviews or new things happen in your writing life. It would suck to go to an author's website knowing they are coming out with a new book, but when you go there it says nothing about the new book... but I wouldn't expect it to change every day. Because unlike a blog, I don't visit author websites every day.

Nisa said...

Mercedes Lackey has a fun welcome page. http://www.mercedeslackey.com/

I think having a button for each of your books is a good idea and a "news" button as well.

I do think keeping it simple is probably a good idea.

Popophy is my verification word. Cool!

Danyelle said...

I always love "extras" on websites. Parts of the story from someone else's POV, deleted scenes--that kind of stuff. :D

Paul Greci said...

I'm in the process of developing a website but here's what I have:
A bio with some photos, contact information, links to my blog and twitter account, some cover copy of my novel. It's pretty basic right now.
http://www.acsalaska.net/~paulgreci/

Carolyn V. said...

My writing group has told me to get a website, but I still haven't.

But some of them have their blogs on their website, some don't. Some keep their site the same all year long, some...don't. I know, I'm a lot of help. Sorry.

This is a very interesting question. I'll have to check back and see what others say. =)

Amy Tate said...

I'm in the same boat, so I appreciate you posting this. I'm anxious to read other comments. I'm curious as to why you hired someone. Was it because of time or did you feel as if you couldn't do it yourself? I'm 50/50 and have considered paying someone too.

Marybeth Poppins said...

I made my website in Wordpress so I can update it whenever I want. I keep a separate blog on it and also try to add little things here and there. I haven't been doing too much lately though because I have been working on my writing more.

Here's the web address if you want to check it out www.marybethsmith.com

I'm in love with it!

Melanie Avila said...

I recently read that saying "welcome" on the opening page is horrible, and since mine says that, I keep thinking I should change it up. I was nervous to be too out there, but it is MY site.

As for updating content, I update my blog every day and wouldn't know what to update my site with.

christine said...

Oh fun...I love Cassandre Clares websites...they are just cool. Good luck with everything!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

You definitely want the links to books, bio, contact to be easily identified and prominent. I don't like to go on Easter egg hunts when I visit author sites. I also am not fond of the scroll widgets that have bio in them. Maybe that's just me and other people don't mind it, but I want it on a page, not in a box I have to work.
I do like cool graphics and gif stuff. If a book is about fairies, vampires, werewolves, steampunk machines, I'd like to see images popping with it.
I suggest visiting a lot of author sites and noting what you like and don't. You are naturally funny, so I would hope you let that shine in whatever you do.

Jessica said...

Unfortunately, I don't know much about them.
I don't think you have to update regularly if your blog is attached. :-)

Michelle McLean said...

Jess's website is awesome (www.jessicaverday.com). Diana Gabaldon's is very informative, lots of cool info about her books, etc (www.dianagabaldon.com). I like the ones that are just visually fun, cool effects are always nice (though pricey usually), and I like when there is fun info on the author and his/her books :)

Rebecca Knight said...

I love it when authors have "news" or "upcoming events" listed :). Also, I've heard it's good to have a Media tab w/ downloadable pics, contact info, FAQs, and stuff like that for the press to use if they'd like.

This is really helpful reading what everyone else likes, too. Thanks for the post, Elana!

Stephanie L. McGee said...

My favorite author website is jasperfforde.com

It's great. Check it out. He's got so much there. Some remains static, but some gets updated from time to time. I don't visit author websites too often so the static part isn't an issue for me.

I don't have a website yet. Someday. And the first site I have will be designed through my Mac so I don't have to deal with code or any of that sticky stuff.

ElanaJ said...

Wow, great sites to visit! Thanks guys.

And Amie, I didn't really hire him persay. I actually went on a date with the guy in high school. That's right. He's one of "those." When I joined Facebook last summer, we "became" friends again. We went to the same high school, so it was natural. He happens to make websites (among other online stuff). I told him way back then that if I ever had a book coming out, I wanted him to do my website. And well, I don't have a book coming out yet, but it could happen. So we've been talking recently. And he asked some hard questions! Thus, this post.

I have a website I run through 1and1.com. I've been happy, but there's no cool stuff. So yeah.

:)

shield maiden said...

I think it really depends on your audience.

I've visited some websites of prominent YA authors and they are more graphic intensive/visually appealing.

Some of them, like Cassandra Clare, Kelley Armstrong, and Rick Riordan even have separate sites for their YA series (versus the "official" site where they post their bio, contact, etc.). I highly recommend visiting those sites.

I also like the design of Neil Gaiman's website and Jonathan Stroud if you're looking for something not as intense and flashy.

In general, I'd think that a blog should be updated more often than a website. A website is like a portfolio to showcase your work, events, reviews, etc. Some authors integrate their blog with the website. It certainly seems like it would be easier to manage. And in a way, you'd be updating both your blog and website on a continual basis!

If you want to get an idea of what to include, I'd take a look at what other authors currently have out there. Take some of your own favorite authors. Do their sites work for you or do they seem lacking?

Good luck with the website building!

Jemi Fraser said...

Interesting post. I don't have a website - just a blog. I don't visit many either, so I can't help much. I would think pages on: bio, each book, book signing info, virtual blog tours, ...

Have fun :)

Katie Ganshert said...

I wish I knew what to tell ya, but unfortunately, my website is incredibly lame-o. I've told myself that if I get a book contract, I'll fork up the dough to pay a professional to really do something with it.

Can't wait to see yours are spiffed up!

Abby Annis said...

I love to see snippets from the story, and artwork. Love artwork. :) Don't know if that helps. How fun to re-design your website! Good luck!

Lisa and Laura said...

Great post Elana! I've always wondered the exact same thing!

Aaron Polson said...

I think every site should have freebies like book group questions, snippets and short stories. As a YA writer, think about what the kiddos would want.

PJ Hoover said...

I used to put news updates on my website but found that looked too static, too. I added a Twitter widget to mine that scrolls through my tweets, but that's all the dynamic my website is.

WindyA said...

Thanks for some great stuff to consider! I don't have a website yet, but between you and all the commenters, there's definitely a lot to take note of when I finally get started!

Solvang Sherrie said...

I made my website on iWeb which makes it really easy. But the only thing that changes on it is my blog. I've enjoyed reading other people's comments though for ideas!

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